Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | crankit

If you go down to the woods today…

Agaricus bisporus


The word mushroom is derived from the French word ‘mousseron’, meaning they grow on moist moss. For centuries these primitive plants have been linked with magic and myth, created by bolts of lightning. In Egypt, none but the pharaohs were permitted to partake of this ‘mysterious night-growing’ vegetable. The Greeks and Romans considered mushrooms food for the gods, although this didn’t stop the upper class Romans from eating them! The Greek city, Mycenae possibly takes its name from mykes or mushrooms, the legend being that Perseus, hot and thirsty, picked a mushroom and drank the water flowing from it. He then expressed his gratitude by naming the city in its honour. In Asian folklore, mushrooms are esteemed as a longevity tonic.

Thousands of mushrooms species grow in the wild, but many edible species have poisonous look-alikes. By the 1600s, the French had begun cultivating mushrooms to keep up with the local demand. In 1867, in a place called Mery in France was said to contain 21 miles of beds and produce 3000 pounds of mushrooms daily!

Source of

Zinc, germanium, vitamins B12 and E, some protein.

Good for

Asian mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, enoki and black tree fungus) have been found to thin the blood, lowering cholesterol and helping prevent strokes and heart attacks. They also stimulate the immune system, help prevent cancer and possibly help conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Studies at Budapest’s Institute of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research have shown that lentinan, a polysaccharide found in shiitake mushrooms, is a promising anti-cancer agent and immune system stimulant.

Mushrooms are among the few rich organic sources of germanium, which increases oxygen efficiency, counteracts the effects of pollutants, and increases resistance to disease. They are also rich in zinc, which is valuable in treating skin injuries, regulating prostate gland function, and helping the metabolism of animal and plant proteins. Mushrooms in general neutralise toxic residues in the body from the consumption of animal protein.

Organic vs Non-organic

Wild or field mushrooms from organic sources are the most delicious and nutritious available. Organic cultivated mushrooms are superior to their commercial non-organic rivals.

As well as pesticides used on the crops themselves, large amounts are required for the sterilisation of the growing medium and sheds in non-organic varieties.